Tag: Louisiana State Police

Rushton, Schiffman receive ‘excellence’ award for double-murder prosecution

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman were among the recipients of the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s Excellence in Law Enforcement Awards.

 

The Metropolitan Crime Commission on Tuesday (Feb. 5) recognized assistant district attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman for the prosecution of an Avondale man who was convicted last year of a double murder in Kenner.

Rushton and Schiffman were presented 2019 Excellence in Law Enforcement awards during the commission’s annual meeting and awards luncheon, held at the Sheraton in downtown New Orleans.

A Jefferson Parish jury in January 2018 convicted Shaun Barnett of two counts of first-degree murder for the April 4, 2016 deaths of Dawn Scott, 28, and Raynell Kimbrough, 31. The couple was in bed in their Kenner home early on the morning of April 4, 2016, when Barnett shot them. A child in the house heard the gunfire and escorted his younger brother outside; police found an uninjured infant on the bed next to Scott.

Barnett has been sentenced to life in prison.

Louisiana State Police investigator Leland “Corky” Dwight, Kenner Police Department Detective Harold P. Pendergast, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dennis Thornton and the JPSO Crime Laboratory staff also received the award for their work in solving the double-murder.

The commission presents the awards in recognition of those who “performed extraordinary service” to criminal justice. The awardees have “a record of continuity and consistency of service and shall reflect the admirable quality of integrity, both personal and professional.”

Adam Littleton sentenced to life for Jasilas Wright’s I-10 death

Adam Littleton was sentenced Thursday (Nov. 9) to a mandatory life sentence in prison, for his criminal culpability in causing the death of a woman who was fatally struck by vehicles on Interstate 10 in Metairie after she leapt from his moving car in trying to escape him.

Littleton, 26, a Mississippi native, was convicted as charged this summer of second-degree murder in the June 10, 2015, death of Jasilas Wright, 19.

According to evidence presented at trial, Wright met Littleton through her job as a dancer at Bourbon Street night clubs. In May 2015, she traveled with Littleton to Texas, where she engaged in prostitution. Littleton benefited financially from her prostitution.

On the morning she died, Wright and Littleton argued in the French Quarter before he forced her into his car with him, according to a witness.

However, unwilling to travel to Texas again, Wright jumped from Littleton’s car in the westbound lanes of I-10 near the Veterans Memorial Boulevard overpass. She was fatally struck by vehicles.

According to additional evidence presented at trial, Littleton witnessed Wright being struck by vehicles and yet continued driving to Texas. He never notified police.

He did speak with Wright’s family on the telephone, telling them only that she jumped from his car. He hung up and never spoke with them again.

Knowing that warrants for his arrest were pending in Jefferson Parish and New Orleans, Littleton surrendered to authorities in Shreveport.

Littleton was prosecuted under the felony-murder doctrine. Prosecutors alleged that he was engaged in the crime of second-degree kidnapping when Wright died, and as such, he was legally responsible for her death.

Following the conviction, Littleton’s defense counsel sought a new trial, citing numerous complaints. The defense argued, among other things, that prosecutors withheld information about a key witness’s criminal history.

After hearing argument, reading numerous briefs and listening to a recording of the key witness’s trial testimony, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court ruled he found “no merit” to the defense assertions.

Judge Faulkner then sentenced Littleton to the mandatory life sentence.

The Louisiana State Police, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and New Orleans Police Department investigated the homicide.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Megan Gorman prosecuted the case.

Grand Isle resident sentenced to 26 years in child abuse case

A former Grand Isle resident was sentenced to more than 26 years in prison Tuesday (Sept. 19), after he admitted he sought to pay $400 to have sex with a 6- to 7-year-old girl in his home on the barrier island.

Wade Perkins III, 32, pleaded guilty as charged to attempted first-degree rape and four counts of possession of images depicting the sexual abuse of children. Perkins already was a convicted sex-offender, having been convicted in 2006 of having sex with a 14-year-old girl in his native Michigan.

Agents with the Louisiana State Police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Houma office, arrested Perkins on April 28, 2016, during an investigation triggered by a tip on Perkins’ seeking sex with juvenile girls.

In accepting the guilty pleas, Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Perkins to 25 years in prison for each of the five counts and ran them concurrently. Perkins then pleaded guilty to being a double offender, given his prior conviction of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Romulus, Mich.

Perkin was resentenced to 26 years and four months in prison as a two-time felon under Louisiana’s habitual offender law. He does not get benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. He also faces a lifetime of sex offender registration.

Perkins also faces similar charges in Michigan.

Assistant District Attorneys Emily Booth and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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Adam Littleton guilty of murder in I-10 death of Jasilas Wright

Adam Littleton, a Mississippi native, was found criminally responsible on Friday (July 28) for the death of a woman who attempted to escape his vehicle after being kidnapped by jumping from his car on Interstate 10 in Metairie.

Littleton, 25, was convicted as charged of second-degree murder in the June 10, 2015, death of Jasilas Wright, 19. According to testimony at trial, Wright met Littleton in connection with her job as a dancer at Bourbon Street nightclubs.

Littleton was prosecuted under the felony-murder doctrine. Shortly before Wright died, she and Littleton got into an altercation in the French Quarter. Littleton roughed up her to get her into his car, and they drove toward Metairie on I-10. As Wright died during the commission of a second-degree kidnapping, Littleton was found to be legally responsible for her death.

The month before her death, Wright went with Littleton and another woman to Texas for prostitution, a decision she regretted after he initially abandoned her there without money, she told family and friends in New Orleans in emotional phone calls, jurors heard this week in testimony.

Wright sought to distance herself from Littleton and the lifestyle, said Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish, who prosecuted Littleton with Megan Gorman. “Jasilas was on the highway of human trafficking,” Rish told jurors. “She was looking for her exit.”

Shortly before her death, Littleton and Wright argued on Bourbon Street before he forced her into his car to drive her to Texas. Unwilling to go, Wright leapt from Littleton’s car in the I-10 westbound lanes where the interstate crosses over Veterans Memorial Boulevard. Several vehicles struck her and ran over her body numerous times. Many motorists called 911. But Littleton, who witnessed Wright being struck by cars, continued to Texas.

“What does Adam do? Nothing, because he knows he’s to blame,” Rish told jurors. “He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t call police.”

Wright suffered “massive trauma,” her death caused by “multiple blunt-force trauma,” forensic pathologist Dr. Marianne Eserman testified of her autopsy results.

After collecting personal items from the I-10 lanes and shoulders, the Louisiana State Police identified Wright as the victim, according to testimony. The items included Wright’s cell phone, a key piece of evidence, according to State Police.

Littleton spoke with Wright’s family on the phone, telling them that Wright jumped out of his car. He hung up, and they could never contact him again.

With warrants for his arrest issued in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, Littleton surrendered to police in Shreveport. In addition to the State Police, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the New Orleans Police Department were involved in the investigation.

Littleton faces spending the rest of his life in prison, at hard labor and with no chance of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Littleton on Aug. 22.

 

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Metairie man nabbed in heroin distribution case convicted of narcotics, firearms offenses

A Metairie man who sold heroin to an undercover informant in New Orleans during a multi-jurisdictional investigation that led to Jefferson Parish was convicted Thursday night (Jan. 19) of possessing and distributing the illegal narcotic and of illegally possessing four firearms.

Julius Hankton, 27, is guilty of possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of oxycodone and four counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

A Jefferson Parish jury deliberated for 40 minutes before unanimously convicting him as charged of all counts. Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court set Hankton’s sentencing for Feb. 17.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation New Orleans Violent Crime Task Force investigated Hankton beginning in 2014, using an undercover informant to purchase small quantities of heroin on four occasions, according to testimony. The task force comprises members of the FBI and local law enforcement agencies, including the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana State Police.

Hankton, who lived in New Orleans when the investigation began, moved into an apartment with his girlfriend in the 1600 block of Clearview Parkway. As such, task force members obtained a warrant from a Jefferson Parish magistrate commissioner to search the apartment.

About 6 a.m., on March 19, 2015, FBI SWAT members and sheriff’s deputies served the warrant, surprising Hankton, his 4-year-old son and his girlfriend as they slept.

During the search agents found more than 21 grams of heroin, eight tablets of oxycodone and the firearms. They also seized more than $20,000 in cash.

The firearms included a fully loaded 9mm pistol with extended magazine, which was set on a dresser, a 10mm pistol on the floor next to his bed, a .45-caliber pistol found in the dresser drawer and a fully loaded AK-47 assault rifle in a duffle bag under the bed.

Hankton is barred from possessing firearms because of his prior convictions in New Orleans of aggravated battery, possession of cocaine, carrying a firearm while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance and illegal possession of stolen firearms.

Hankton, who did not testify, denied the crimes. His attorneys argued there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs and guns belonged to him.

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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New Orleans scrap yard owner pleads guilty, gets 10 years in auto theft racketeering case

Hours after he was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday morning (June 30), the co-owner of a New Orleans scrap yard pleaded guilty to participating in an alleged criminal enterprise whose members were responsible for almost one-third of the auto thefts in Jefferson Parish in recent years.

Harry J. Sorrell, 48, of Slidell, pleaded guilty as charged to racketeering and conspiracy to commit theft, for crimes occurring between 2009 and this year. Sorrell then pleaded guilty to being a double offender under Louisiana’s habitual offender law, because of a 2008 conviction of a federal weapons offense.

Judge Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the pleas on Thursday afternoon, sentenced Sorrell to 10 years in prison as a second felony offender. Sorrell then was remanded into state custody to begin the sentence.

According to the superseding indictment, Sorrell, who also uses the name Harry Sporrell, owned and operated a scrap yard with an unindicted co-conspirator. Vehicles that were stolen by enterprise members were transported to the scrap yard to be crushed. By crushing the vehicles, the enterprise members eliminated evidence and gained another source of revenue through the sale of scrap metal, according to the indictment.

Enterprise members additionally filed fraudulent insurance claims seeking compensation from insurance companies, after members of the enterprise alleged their involvement in staged automobile accidents.

On May 5, a Jefferson Parish grand jury handed up an indictment charging 13 people in connection with the racketeering case. Sorrell was listed as unindicted co-conspirator “A” in that bill of indictment. On Thursday, a grand jury handed up a superseding bill of indictment, adding Sorrell and two other men to the list of defendants who were previously charged.

Authorities say approximately 32 percent of all vehicle thefts in Jefferson Parish in 2014 and 2015 were tied to the group of men. The thefts, most involving trucks, amounted to at least $2.5 million in economic loss to Jefferson Parish, according to the bill of indictment.

While the grand jury met Thursday morning, Patrick Robinson Jr., 49, of New Orleans, pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy to commit theft, 11 counts of theft, two counts of illegal possession of stolen things and altering vehicle identification numbers.

Robinson was among the 13 people who were charged on May 5. Judge Adams is scheduled to sentence Robinson on Sept. 19.

Sorrell’s and Robinson’s pleas on Thursday bring to six the number of defendants who have admitted guilt in the racketeering case.

Ronnel A. Kyles, 29, received a 10-year prison sentence. Jimmie “Black” James, 28, of New Orleans, is scheduled to be sentenced in September. Jason Mercadel, 38, of New Orleans, was sentenced to 15 years in prison; and Brandon Lane, 29, of Marrero, received a 10-year sentence.

Others named in the indictment are Parrish Norris, 41; Oliver D. Green, 46; Patrick N. Robinson III, 28, whose father is the Robinson who pleaded guilty on Thursday; Cardell E. Torrence, 39; Kevin A. Martin, 29; Brandon P. Evans, 30; Keith A. Nero, 29; Shon R. Claiborne, 27; and Ronald J. Johnson, 29. Norrish remains at large and led police in New Orleans on a high-speed chase after he was indicted on May 5.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit and the Louisiana State Police investigated the cases.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese, Thomas Sanderson and Lindsay Truhe are prosecuting the cases.

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Fourth man pleads guilty to role in auto theft racketeering case

A New Orleans man pleaded guilty to his part in an auto theft racketeering case on Monday (June 20), bringing to four the number of people to have confessed to involvement in the ring authorities say accounted for almost one third of vehicle thefts in Jefferson Parish in recent years.

Ronnel A. Kyles, 29, pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy to commit theft and one count of theft in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. He was among the 13 men charged by a grand jury on May 5 in connection with the ring tied to approximately 32 percent of vehicle thefts in the parish in 2014 and 2015, amounting to at least $2.5 million in economic loss, according to the indictment.

Vehicles, primarily pickup trucks, allegedly were stolen for several reasons. In some cases, enterprise members allegedly transferred vehicle identification numbers to wrecked, inoperable or salvaged trucks with little or no value that were legally purchased to vehicles that were stolen.

In other instances, enterprise members allegedly stole vehicles for parts. The stolen vehicles were sold for scrap based on the weight or simply abandoned, according to the indictment.

Kyles’ role included designating vehicles to be stolen, transporting other enterprise members to steal them and stealing the vehicles. He specifically pleaded guilty to being one of three members who stolen a 2006 Ford F250 pickup between April 16, 2015 and April 17, 2015. The charge was theft involving a vehicle valued at between $5,000 and $25,000.

Judge Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Kyles to 10 years for each of the three counts and ran them concurrently, for a total of 10 years.

Kyles then pleaded guilty to being a second offender under the state’s habitual offender law, because of a previous auto theft conviction in Jefferson Parish. In the previous conviction, he pleaded guilty to theft of a motor vehicle and attempted theft in December 2014 and received three years of probation, court records show. Those crimes involved his stealing a pickup truck, and attempting to steal a vehicle’s rims in May 2014, records show.

On Monday, Judge Adams sentenced Kyles to 10 years as a second-offender, on the second count of his guilty plea, conspiracy to commit auto theft. The judge ran that sentence concurrently, for a total of 10 years.

The others who’ve pleaded guilty in connection with the alleged auto theft ring are Jason Mercadel, 38, of New Orleans, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison; Jimmie “Black” James, 28, of New Orleans, who is scheduled to be sentenced in September; and, Brandon Lane, 29, of Marrero, who received a 10-year sentence.

Lane was charged last year, separately from the 13 men named in the May 5 indictment.

The others named in the indictment are Parrish Norris, 41; Oliver D. Green, 46; Patrick N. Robinson III, 28; Patrick N. Robinson Jr. 49; Cardell E. Torrence, 39; Kevin A. Martin, 29; Brandon P. Evans, 30; Keith A. Nero, 29; Shon R. Claiborne, 27; and Ronald J. Johnson, 29.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit and the Louisiana State Police investigated the case.

Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson, Lindsay Truhe and Doug Freese are prosecuting the cases.

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Third defendant in auto theft racketeering case pleads guilty

A New Orleans man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday (June 2), after he pleaded guilty to his role in an alleged auto theft ring that accounted for almost one-third of vehicle thefts in Jefferson Parish during a two-year period.

Jason Mercadel’s guilty plea brings to three the number of people who’ve admitted to being part the alleged ring. The thefts caused a net loss to the community valued at more than $2.5 million in 2014 and 2015, according to the bill of indictment a state grand jury handed up on May 5.

Mercadel, 38, pleaded guilty as charged to racketeering, conspiracy to commit theft and 11 counts of theft. As part of the negotiated plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed a charge of altering or removing a vehicle identification number.

Mercadel, also known as Jason Mercadal, is one of 13 people who were charged by a grand jury on May 5. According to the indictment, Mercadel both facilitated auto thefts and directly participated in the thefts. He was charged with designating vehicles to be stolen, transported others to steal the vehicles and stealing them himself.

Vehicles, primarily pickup trucks, allegedly were stolen for several reasons. In some cases, enterprise members allegedly transferred vehicle identification numbers from wrecked inoperable or salvaged trucks with little or no value that were legally purchased to vehicles that were stolen.

In other instances, enterprise members allegedly stole vehicles for parts. The stolen vehicles were sold for scrap based on the weight or simply abandoned, according to the indictment.

Judge Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Mercadel to 15 years for racketeering, 15 years for conspiracy, five years for each of the nine counts of theft of vehicles valued at between $5,000 and $25,000, and five years for each of two counts of theft of vehicles valued at between $750 and $5,000. The sentences were run concurrently.

Mercadel also pleaded guilty to being a repeat offender under Louisiana’s habitual offender law for a previous conviction of conspiracy to commit theft over $25,000. He received a 15-year sentence for as a second felony offender, which was run concurrently with the other sentences he received on Thursday.

On May 20, another of the 13 indicted people, Jimmie “Black” James, 28, of New Orleans, pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy to commit auto theft, seven counts of theft and one count of altering a vehicle identification number. His sentencing is set for September.

Another man, Brandon Lane, 29, of Marrero, was charged separately last year in connection with the same auto theft ring. He pleaded guilty on March 18 to racketeering, conspiracy to commit auto theft, 17 counts of theft and illegal possession of stolen things. Lane was sentenced to 10 years as a second felony offender.

Others named in the May 5 indictment are Parrish Norris, 41; Oliver D. Green, 46; Patrick N. Robinson III, 28; Patrick N. Robinson Jr., 49; Cardell E. Torrence, 39; Ronnel A. Kyles, 29; Kevin A. Martin, 29; Brandon P. Evans, 30; Keith A. Nero, 29; Shon R. Claiborne, 27; and Ronald J. Johnson, 29.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit and the Louisiana State Police handled the investigation.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese, Lindsay Truhe and Thomas Sanderson are prosecuting the cases.

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New Orleans man pleads guilty in auto theft racketeering case

Two weeks after he was named in a racketeering indictment charging 13 people in a sweeping car theft ring, an eastern New Orleans man pleaded guilty on Friday (May 20) to his role in an enterprise that the indictment alleges to be responsible for almost one-third of the stolen vehicles in Jefferson Parish in recent years.

Jimmie “Black” James, 28, pleaded guilty as charged to racketeering, conspiracy to commit theft, seven counts of theft and one count of altering a motor vehicle identification number. Judge Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the plea, deferred the sentencing, which is set for the week of Sept. 19.

James and 12 other men are named in a 34-count indictment that a Jefferson Parish grand jury handed up on May 5. According to the indictment, the men were responsible for an estimated 32 percent of Jefferson Parish’s auto thefts in 2014 and 2015, amounting to losses exceeding $2.5 million.

According to the indictment, James’ role in the criminal enterprise involved defeating vehicles’ door locks and ignitions and delivering the stolen vehicles to other members of the enterprise. His expertise was in stealing and tagging diesel trucks, according to the indictment.

James pleaded guilty to stealing a 2005 GMC Yukon XL on April 13, 2015; a 2006 Ford F250 on April 16, 2015; a 2003 GMC Yukon on April 23, 2015; a 2006 Chevrolet 1500 on May 4, 2015; a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado on June 10, 2015; a Chevrolet Silverado on June 11, 2015; and a Chevrolet Silverado on May 2, 2014.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing a Chevrolet 2500 whose vehicle identification number had been altered in order to conceal the truck’s identity.

Others named in the indictment are Parrish Norris, 41; Jason A. Mercadel, 38; Oliver D. Green, 46; Patrick N. Robinson III, 28; Patrick N. Robinson Jr., 49; Cardell E. Torrence, 39; Ronnel A. Kyles, 29; Kevin A. Martin, 29; Brandon P. Evans, 30; Keith A. Nero, 29; Shon R. Claiborne, 27; and Ronald J. Johnson, 29.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit and the Louisiana State Police handled the investigation.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese, Lindsay Truhe and Thomas Sanderson are prosecuting the cases.

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Kenner gymnastics coach sentenced to 25 years in prison for child pornography and video voyeurism

A gymnastics coach at Kenner and Metairie businesses who secretly made videos of a 9-year-old girl changing clothing and later was found to have child pornography in his Kenner home has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Brian Townsend, 43, of Kenner, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (March 22), to 10 counts of possession of child pornography and 11 counts of video voyeurism. In addition to prison time, whenever released from custody, Townsend will have register as a sex offender and remain under supervision for the rest of his life.

The Kenner Police Department opened an investigation in July after learning from the Louisiana State Police that Townsend was sharing and downloading child pornography on the internet using peer-to-peer file sharing software, according to the arrest report.

Kenner and State Police, working with agents of the FBI New Orleans Division’s Violent Crimes Against Children/Human Trafficking Task Force, were able to remotely view videos of prepubescent girls engaging in sexual activity that were on Townsend’s computer. Task force members traced the computer to Townsend’s home on California Avenue in Kenner.

The police searched his home on Oct. 29, when Townsend disclosed he coached children’s gymnastics for about 30 years, according to the arrest report. Among the items police found were 13 videos of a 9-year-old girl whom he secretly recorded with the video camera on his cellular device, which he hid in a room where he sent the child to change her clothing, according to the report.

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office filed a bill of information in court on Jan. 1, charging Townsend with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and 11 counts of video voyeurism. The crimes happened between 2010 and 2015, according to the bill of information.

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the plea arrangement, sentenced Townsend to 25 years for each of the child pornography counts and 10 years for each of the video voyeurism counts.  He ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.

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